Education for Reconciliaction. A study of the draft curriculum for mainstream social studies in Alberta, Canada

Thesis by: Elizabeth Jean Solverson

In 2016, the Government of Alberta (Canada) commenced a curriculum development project with an explicit aim of facilitating reconciliation. The premise of this thesis is that reconciliation is the responsibility of all Canadians, and that this reconciliation needs to be action oriented. Through the method of content analysis, this study considers the proposed draft curriculum for mainstream kindergarten to grade 12 social studies in Alberta in terms of its capacity to stimulate commitment to reconciliaction among settler Canadians. Social studies curricula of the past have damaged the relationship between settlers and Indigenous peoples in Canada by perpetuating dominant narratives that exclude, Other, and marginalize Indigenous peoples’ perspectives and experiences. As such, this study considers the ways the draft curriculum challenges dominant narrative versions of history through the inclusion of alternative narratives from Indigenous perspectives. The study considers reflective discomfort as a key process for settler engagement in reconciliaction, and therefore considers the extent to which the draft curriculum provides space for discomfort. The findings of this study reveal that through the widespread inclusion of content relating to Indigenous peoples, the proposed curriculum stands to facilitate reconciliaction in many ways. The study considers the promotion of an understanding of reconciliation as establishing and maintaining relationships based on the Treaty Handshake vision as a major strength of the curriculum. However, though articulated in the content, this reimagined relationship is not fully embodied within the structure of the curriculum.

Thesis available